Congresswoman leaves Hispanic caucus, says chairman called her a whore
Sanchez Accuses Democrat of Calling Her a 'Whore,'
Resigns from Hispanic Group
By: Josephine Hearn
January 31, 2007 07:29 PM EST
Rep. Loretta Sanchez has quit the Congressional
Hispanic Caucus, accusing the chairman, Rep. Joe Baca,
of telling people she's a "whore."
Baca denied the charge.
In an interview with The Politico Wednesday, Sanchez,
a California Democrat as is Baca, also cited concerns
about whether Baca was properly elected Hispanic
Caucus chairman in November and about his general
attitude toward female lawmakers. The caucus
represents 21 Hispanic Democrats in Congress.
"I'm not going to be a part of the CHC as long as Mr.
Baca illegally holds the chair I told them no.
There's a big rift here," Sanchez said. "You treat the
women like shit. I have no use for him."
In a statement to The Politico, Baca said Sanchez "has
decided to resign from the Congressional Hispanic
Caucus (CHC), and has chosen to air baseless
statements. Let me be clear; her comments are
The last time lawmakers withdrew from the Hispanic
caucus was in the late 1990s when the group's
Republican members left over partisan differences.
Sanchez said she had been approached earlier this year
to contribute funds from her office budget to support
the CHC's shared staff, a requirement for all its
members. She refused.
"I told them to take me off the list, take me off the
Web site, take me off everything," Sanchez said.
She said she was surprised and insulted when she
learned that Baca had made the disparaging personal
comment about her to California Assembly Speaker
Fabian Nunez and other legislators last year.
Nunez "is a friend of mine. Did he think he wouldn't
tell me?" Sanchez asked.
Sanchez voted against Baca in the election for
chairman in November. Four other female lawmakers
abstained from the vote, raising concerns about
whether the election followed proper procedures.
The Sanchez withdrawal is a blow to Baca and his
allies who have been trying to bring the caucus back
together after a series of internal spats last year.
Many of the more junior members and the women have
butted heads with him and senior lawmakers.
Last February, six members withdrew from the group's
political action committee after Baca and his allies
authorized political contributions to family members
who were running for state and local offices.
Sanchez was among that group of defectors, which also
included her sister, Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., and
Democratic Reps. Dennis Cardoza of California, Jim
Costa of California, Raul M. Grijalva of Arizona and
Hilda L. Solis of California.
In recent weeks, Rep. Xavier Becerra, Calif., a CHC
member who serves in House leadership as assistant to
the speaker, had been trying to persuade the six
members to rejoin the political action committee,
which is known as the Committee for Hispanic
Causes/Building Our Leadership Diversity. So far, it
appears those efforts have not succeeded. An
invitation for a PAC fundraiser to be held Wednesday
night continues to omit the six.
Earlier this month, four female lawmakers wrote Baca
asking that the caucus repeat his election as chairman
because the earlier vote failed to use secret ballots,
as required in the group's bylaws.
Sanchez and other female CHC members have repeatedly
complained that Baca and some of his male colleagues
do not accord them a high level of respect.
"There is a big rift. Hello? Do they not get this?"